Whether I was consciously aware of it or not, I learned early on that being surrounded by things that make you feel good can help you survive in any situation. The older I get and the more life’s challenges are thrown at me, it serves as my motto. Being an interior decorator in my heart and also as a side profession, I find myself always trying to make a nest no matter where I land. My husband and I have moved a number of times and while there have been some really cool settings that we’ve lived in just by virtue of the home itself, there’s been other times when it only became a true home and respite by means of what we did with it.
I think this is a very important quality to develop because with the economy the way it is and especially in certain localities where the cost of housing is almost over the top, we don’t always get to choose our dream house. In fact, most times, not! But, with some creative imagination one can transform their living space into one which makes them just crave to walk through the front door, even if the outside does not have the idyllic setting found in a Universal Studios neighborhood set. Choosing items in colors that fill us with warmth and good memories along with pretty colors of paint can truly take us from ick to ahhhh. After all, isn’t home suppose to be where the heart is? So, put your heart into wherever you live, even if it’s a rented room in someone else’s house. Make it your special space where you can feel safe and recharge your spirit.
In one of my earlier articles entitled, Bohemian Baby, I mentioned that I’ve always thought outside the box… and I have not just been this way when it comes to decorating my own home. When I have done work for a client or even a personal friend, I always step outside the norm when it comes to creating an inviting space. Currently, we live in a rather large space which provides me with endless opportunities to create little vignettes, which in a subtle way invites a person to sit down, read a magazine or have a cup of coffee and just feel ’embraced’. Since we live in a Anaheim, a very old city in Orange County, we are surrounded by some really interesting and historic houses. They are not all buffed out in true decorator style, many have been left rather ramshackle, but they still have a lot of character. So, every time I see one which is in the latter condition, I think to myself, ‘how could I simply but remarkably turn this into a place where the resident just loves coming home?’ People often think you have to put a boatload of money into your house. Not true. So many things can be made attractive by colorful paint, inexpensive flooring and replacing a few fixtures and lighting. Play off what’s there, bring out the best and don’t let size, non-ownership or lack of wealth stop you from making your space special in some way.
I recently was commissioned to re-style a small commercial bathroom in a building which contained a non-working urinal and had been used strictly as a “men’s bathroom”. The unsightly fixture obviously worked at one time, but was not worth repairing as it was just one of a number of bathrooms in the building and was not really needed. The building had been cosmetically enhanced and they wanted to make the little bathroom one that customers could enjoy using. So, after a major cleaning of everything, two colors of paint were chosen and a quick trip to one of my favorite thrift store venues to find some eclectic items for the wow factor. I knew the client was wanting to keep the cost minimal so thrift stores were an excellent option especially here in Southern California. The choices of decorating items I find are endless and frankly there are some real smokin’ deals if you have a good eye.
So, creating an ambient atmosphere does not end with just the homeowner or renter. It includes commercial retail settings also. Remember, if a customer feels comfortable and ‘at home’ in a store, they will linger, perhaps finding more to purchase. Your ‘feel good’ barometer may not include geranium pots on the windowsill, but let it serve as a metaphor. Do not let economics and location stifle your ability to feel good wherever you are, whether it be in your own personal living setting or even a work office. Life as we know, does not always treat us fairly and go the way in which we hope, but we can nurture our spirit and our heart by finding whatever serves as our ‘geraniums on the windowsill’.